For all those that genuflect at the heel of Tortoise as THE post-rock instrumental pioneers of the 90s, there’s a West Coast rival for that top title, Seattle’s Critters Buggin, who released their where-the-fuck-did-this-come-from debut, Guest, in 1994, the same year as Tortoise’s eponymous debut. So, let’s say these two are neck and neck in the historical horse race, but the Critters fellas take the lead in the endless permutations beyond the band they began with, keeping music weird ‘n’ wooly and way more fun than it’d be without them. Collectively, Skerik (saxophonics), Mike Dillon (percussion, keys), Brad Houser (bass, sax, clarinet) and Matt Chamberlain (drums) have done more than almost any four dudes to keep our general musical conversation lively. Daring, inscrutably clever and filled with foundational, ever-outstanding musicianship, these four exhibit a fearless reach that’s both pummeling and sometimes eerily beautiful. The music these guys make is profoundly interesting and profoundly entertaining – a truly groovy combo. Right now, the Critters have put all of their CDs on sale for $10 bucks each. It’s a catalog well worth investigating, a treasure trove for jazz heads that like to rock and rockers that don’t mind some sax smeared all over their thang. Shop til you drop here.
A few tasters from the boys’ prodigious output.